- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a 3,000-plus-word post on his blog, blogmaverick.com, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explained his thought process regarding the team's massive roster overhaul since the 2011 title run and expressed confidence in the future of a franchise coming off its first non-playoff season in a dozen years.
Cuban also shared the video of a two-minute, eight-second cartoon created by the Mavs as part of their failed recruiting pitch to Dwight Howard this summer in the blog post titled "Lets Talk Mavs #MFFL."
The blog post begins by rehashing the 2010-11 season, reminding readers that there was a lot of internal and external doubt before the Mavs made their surprising championship run, and then details Cuban's "tough decisions" to allow key players from the title team to leave via free agency after the lockout.
Cuban cited the collective bargaining agreement and post-lockout schedule as a factor in his decision not to re-sign Tyson Chandler and others after the championship. He called the compressed, 66-game 2011-12 season a "lost year" for teams like the Mavs that relied primarily on older players, saying that made it difficult to justify keeping the roster intact, knowing that they "would be stuck with an aging team and not be in a position to make a big impact on our roster" due to the more restrictive CBA.
"Would i do it the same way again?" Cuban wrote. "In a heartbeat. Why? Because in the NBA, like in the non-sports business world you have to take chances in order to be rewarded. You have to be smart and you have to be more than a little lucky."
Cuban called the league "much smarter" than it was when he bought the Mavs in January 2000, pointing to more analytical front offices around the NBA. He acknowledged the Mavs are attempting to rebuild in unconventional fashion with 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki as the centerpiece instead of the current "popular path," which according to Cuban, is stockpiling young players and adding high lottery picks while they learn and develop on the job.
"Our culture is one of the reasons I won't trade Dirk," Cuban wrote.
"When you turn your team upside down and try to figure out what the culture of the team is, you take the greatest risk a team can take. Dirk sets the tone for our team. He works as hard, if not harder than anyone. He helps our younger players understand what he expects and what they need to do to excel. On the court he is selfless. He would rather not have to score a point if we would win the game any way. He would rather pass the ball and let anyone else score than be forced to take the shot. Until its the time of the game where we need a point. Then he is ready to step up as often as we need it. But he knows, that his impact on a game is far more important than any averages or what appears in the box score. That mindset. That selflessness. His work ethic is something I want to be in place long after he has retired. But to do that we have to transition with him, not in a void.
"It is also the reason I believe that you don't just blow up a team. Go back the past 10 years and look at all the teams that traded their best player. There aren't a lot of quick trips to the finals to point to as examples."
Cuban readily admitted that the Mavs hoped to land Howard or Chris Paul in free agency, but he wrote that he is "REALLY POSITIVE" that the Mavs signed a "great group of players" this summer.
Point guard Jose Calderon and combo guard Monta Ellis are the headliners of the Mavs' free agency class. Dallas also added center Samuel Dalembert, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and guard Devin Harris and are close to finalizing a deal with center/forward DeJuan Blair.
"We got players that we think fit our culture," Cuban wrote. "That have a skill set that will allow us to be successful , that complement each other, fit well with [coach Rick Carlisle's] system and can be a good team.
"We also feel like we have some players that will be far better on our team than they were on previous teams. I like our ability to work with what i call "fallen angels." Players who are traded or left unsigned because everyone in the league thinks that they can only be the player they saw in another organization. We have taken players like Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, Brandan Wright, Tyson Chandler and you can even say Vince Carter among others that were perceived as having this problem or that problem and had them contribute in new ways that were beyond what the "experts" expected.
"We pay less attention to what they did in their last system than what we believe they will do in our system with our group of players. We are not always successful as last year pointed out, but we have a good track record."
The Mavs' track record the last two seasons isn't impressive. They have failed to win a playoff game since the 2011 title clincher, had an 11-year 50-win streak snapped in the post-lockout season and went 41-41 with a roster loaded with one-year rentals last season to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2000. But Cuban is optimistic that the Mavs can soon return to contending status.
"If we stay healthy, I think we can have a good team," Cuban wrote. "How good ? I don't make predictions. I do believe that by having a core of players that we can grow and develop with, and cap room in the upcoming season and what we feel is the ability to develop and improve the performance of our players, we are in a good position for this year and for the future. We have been hurt by not having a core of players in place that free agents see as teammates they want to play with. THat shouldn't be the case next year.
"In addition, because of all the financial restrictions that the new CBA puts on teams, I believe more teams are going to be blown up and the new popular approach will be adopted by more teams. Which in turn will make that approach even more difficult to be successful with. Hopefully this will create opportunities for the Mavs to add new players either via cap room or through trade that get us back in to the Finals and rewards our fans with another ring."
3dEthan Sherwood Strauss
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com